Tag Archives: Orange

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup

A wee while ago, one of my Random Recipe entries was a slightly disappointing celeriac soup.  It was just… bland.  In that post, I decided to root for (badum-tschhhh!  Don’t judge, it’s been a tiring week…) this rather neglected vegetable and would attempt to find a non-bland celeriac soup recipe.  Then I moved to NZ and got completely distracted by other things.  (Ehm, so when I said that it was a wee while ago, it was actually at least 18 months ago.)  The celeriac soup mission was put on hold.  Not that it was a mission that I had been taking particularly seriously.

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup 1

Last weekend I came across some celeriac halves going cheap.  It was obviously fate.  Or a simple case of an ugly vegetable not getting much love.  I bought some, and proceeded to try out a celeriac soup recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! which also involved fennel and orange, a combination which intrigued me.  It turned out far tastier than that original uninspiring celeriac soup.  The fennel adds a slight aniseedy taste (but not overpoweringly so – luckily, because I’m not really a fan of a strong aniseed flavour), and the orange adds some subtle pep.  It seems that I’ve solved the bland celeriac soup issue – mission accomplished, hurrah!  (Although I’m happy to try out any other interesting celeriac soup suggestions.)  I’m still stuck on how to take interesting photos of beige soup though.

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup 2

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup

Serves 4-5
Slightly adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday!

If adding more stock or water to smooth the soup out (I should have done this but didn’t), using milk would probably make the soup a little more velvety.  I expect that this soup would freeze quite well, just freeze it at the end of step 4, before adding any dairy products.

Ingredients

750g fennel bulbs
250g celeriac (about ¼-½ a celeriac)
4 large shallots or 1 medium onion
Extra virgin olive oil
2 oranges
500ml vegetable stock
5 tbsp crème fraîche, to serve

Directions

1.  Trim and slice the fennel bulbs, keeping any feathery fronds aside to serve.  Peel the celeriac and chop into about 1.5cm cubes (the cubes don’t have to be perfect, but fairly similar is ideal).  Peel and slice the shallots (or onion).

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or pot over a medium heat.  Sweat the shallots for a few minutes, then add the fennel and celeriac and stir well.  Cover and sweat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

3.  Zest and juice the oranges.  Add to the pot along with the stock and some salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 mins until all the vegetables are cooked and tender.  Remove from the heat.

4.  Blend the soup, either in a food processor or with a stick blender.  If the soup is too thick, add a tiny bit of stock or water (mine came out very thick, I should have added a little more stock to it at this point).

5.  Reheat the soup if necessary, check the seasoning and serve hot, with a dollop of crème fraîche in each bowl and scattered with any reserved fennel fronds and a good dose of freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy!

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Making marmalade the Mel way

I hurt.  All over.  And it’s my own silly fault.  You see, due to a general lack of exercise for the past few months, I’m shockingly unfit.  So it was obviously an excellent idea to go from practically no exercise to cycling on Saturday, playing two hours of ultimate frisbee on Sunday (I don’t even know how I got talked into that.  It involved an awful lot of stop-start running.  I hate running.) and cycling again yesterday.  Pacing myself sensibly is not one of my strong points.  And holy guacamole am I paying for it.

Tamarillo marmalade 1

That same all-or-nothing approach isn’t just restricted to poor exercise-related decision-making.  There were some beautiful tamarillos at the farmers’ market a few weekends ago.  So instead of buying a few, I came away with 2kg.  I knew I had some recipes for various tamarillo-based preserves and chutneys squirrelled away, so I dug them out and decided to transform the evidence of my, ahem, slight overenthusiasm into tamarillo marmalade.  Despite loving marmalade, I’d never actually tried making my own before, so this seemed as good a time as ever.

Tamarillo marmalade 2

To be perfectly honest, halfway through slicing 1.5kg of tamarillos, I got a bit bored and started to question whether all this effort was going to be worth it.  I had a similar crisis of enthusiasm the following evening whilst making the marmalade and wondering why it was taking forever to gel.  When I checked the recipe again, I discovered that I’d mixed up the quantities with another recipe that I’d considered and used 1.5kg of tamarillos instead of 1kg.  And then I’d forgotten that I’d used 1.5kg of tamarillos and calculated the sugar based on 1kg of tamarillos.  No wonder.

Tamarillo marmalade 3

Thankfully, the marmalade did eventually gel.  And also happens to taste delicious.  Tamarillos are a little bitter, but not hugely so, which means the decreased sugar isn’t problematic, the marmalade is just the right amount of bitter.  So it worked out wonderfully.  That, I’m afraid, is the Mel show – more than a little disorganised, but I somehow usually manage to fudge it and make it look/taste like I totally knew what I was doing.  More by accident than any sort of actual skill.  Which I’m sure gives you great confidence in my recipes…*

Tamarillo marmalade 4

Tamarillo marmalade

Makes just over 4 x 350ml jars
Adapted from A fruit cookbook

To sterilise the jam jars, wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water before placing on a baking tray and placing in an oven on low heat until fully dried, about 10 mins or so.  It might be an idea to use jam sugar, since the added pectin would probably help the marmalade gel a bit quicker.  I should warn you that the marmalade does take a while to make, and you do have to keep an eye on it.  But don’t be put off by that, just make sure you don’t have any pressing engagements.  The marmalade is delicious on toast and scones or in porridge and would probably make a delicious meat glaze, too.

Ingredients

1.5kg tamarillos
750g caster or granulated sugar (or jam sugar)
2 unwaxed oranges
1 unwaxed lemon

Directions

1.  Place the tamarillos in a heat-proof bowl (you may need to do this in batches) and pour boiling water over them.  Allow to sit for 1-2 mins, then skin them, starting by lopping off the stalk with a sharp knife and peeling off the rest of the skin (the skin peels away very easily once started).  Finely slice the peeled tamarillos, place them in a large bowl with 250g of the sugar and stir together.  Cover with a lid or cling-film and leave to stand overnight.

2.  Finely slice the oranges and lemon, removing any pips.  Add to a large mixing bowl with 750ml water, cover with a lid or cling-film and also leave to stand overnight.

3.  The next day, place several saucers or small plates in the freezer.  Add the orange and lemon peel and water to a large heavy-bottomed pan and simmer over a medium-low heat until the skins turn transparent.  Then add the tamarillos and simmer until tender.  Finally, add the sugar and ensure that it dissolves before turning the heat up a little and bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil.  After about 15-20 mins, remove one of the saucers from the freezer, place 1 tsp of the marmalade and place in the fridge for 1 min.  Push your finger through the marmalade on the saucer.  If it wrinkles, the marmalade is ready.  If not, allow the marmalade to continue on a fast boil for another 4-5 mins and test again.  Continue until the marmalade wrinkles.  As soon as the marmalade is ready, remove from the heat.

4.  Allow to cool for 20 mins.  Skim any scum off the top and ladle the marmalade into sterilised jars and seal (a jam funnel helps considerably).

Enjoy!

PS – I’m submitting this to this week’s Made with Love Mondays hosted by the lovely Javelin Warrior.

Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior

* I feel that I just should point out that I only ever post recipes that actually worked for me.  And if I’m not sure, I’ll double test them.

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Juniper berry salmon

For this month’s Random Recipes challenge, Dom is giving us freer reign than usual with the theme “store cupboard finds” – we have to dig out a forgotten ingredient that has been languishing at the back of our cupboards and then pick any recipe we want that requires that ingredient.  What a great idea!  So I turned to my cupboard to see what I could dig out. Since I moved country in February, my cupboards aren’t (yet) home to ingredients with hazy back stories and dubious origins.  I do, however, have a little canister of juniper berries that I bought a couple of months ago for some recipe that I tried out but didn’t really enjoy.  Juniper berries aren’t something that I ever normally use, so the canister hasn’t been touched since.  Time to rectify that…

Well, first I had to find a recipe.  My cookbooks only had a few offerings, and they were all rather unrealistic, such as roast goose.  I do enjoy goose, but not enough to willingly eat it every day for a month which, since I live on my own and have a tiny freezer, is what would probably end up happening.  So no roast goose, but no other alternatives in my cookbooks.  Luckily the internet exists.  After poking around on the BBC Good Food site, I came across a salmon recipe that called for juniper berries.  Which was perfect, because I had some salmon living in my freezer, so that cleared up a bit of space.  Double success!

I wasn’t too keen on the salad suggested in the original recipe so I went for orange couscous, but I’d suggest serving a simple green salad on the side, otherwise vegetables (salad is totally a vegetable – you know what I mean) are a little non-existent.  I loved the flavour of the juniper berries with the salmon.  I never would have thought to pair the two together, and I think I’ll be experimenting with that combination again.  I still have some juniper berries left after all.  I also love that they made my flat smell faintly of gin.  Uhm.  That sounded better in my head…

Juniper berry salmon with orange couscous

Serves 2
Salmon barely adapted from BBC Good Food

If you are using frozen salmon, do make sure that it has thawed thoroughly in the fridge before cooking it.  If you don’t have a peppercorn mix, don’t necessarily go out and by some just for this recipe, you can just use black peppercorns.  Since there aren’t any vegetables in this, serving a green salad on the side is a great idea.

Ingredients

For the salmon:
1 tbsp dried juniper berries
1 tsp mixed peppercorns (a black, white, green & pink peppercorn mix)
2 salmon fillets (mine were about 500g together, which I found pretty filling)
About 1 tsp olive oil

For the couscous:
100g couscous (I used wholewheat)
Drizzle of organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
Small knob of butter
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Parsley, to serve

Directions

1.  Line a roasting tin with tin foil.  Heat the grill to medium.

2.  Roughly crush the juniper berries and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle (if, like me, you don’t have a mortar and pestle, pop them in a zip-lock bag and roughly crush with a rolling pin).  Place the salmon in the roasting tin and rub with the olive oil and sprinkle the crushed juniper berry and peppercorn mix over the top.  Grill for about 8 mins (the original recipe said 6-7 mins, but I found this wasn’t long enough.  However, this may be more due to my oven than anything else.  Basically, keep an eye on it.), checking that the juniper berries and peppercorns don’t burn.

3.  Whilst the salmon is cooking, prepare the couscous.  Either bring 125ml of water to the boil in a saucepan with the drizzle of oil, then remove from the heat, add the couscous and cover, allowing the couscous to absorb all the water (about 5 mins).  Or add the couscous to a heatproof bowl, add the drizzle of oil and stir through the couscous and add 125ml of boiling water, cover, and allow the couscous to absorb all the water (about 5 mins).  Once the couscous is ready, add the knob of butter, stir through until melted and stir in the orange zest and some freshly ground black pepper.  Keep covered until the salmon is ready.

4.  Immediately serve the salmon accompanied by the couscous topped with freshly chopped parsley, with a green salad on the side.

Enjoy!

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Blueberries, polenta and wine. In a cake.

This month’s Random Recipes challenge has been combined with Tea Time Treats, a blog challenge hosted by Kate at What Cake Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and the theme is (you guessed it!) “tea time random recipes” – a recipe either from a book or the section of a book that covers tea time treats.  I decided to use randomly pick a recipe from my A Treasury of New Zealand Baking book, which is full of baking recipes (shocking, I know) that are definitely tea time appropriate.  The random number generator on my calculator directed me to page 216, a recipe for blueberry polenta upside-down cake, which also calls for white wine and olive oil in the ingredients list.  Polenta, white wine, olive oil and blueberries?  In a cake?  Intriguing.  And an excellent excuse to clear out some of the frozen blueberry reserves currently taking up space in my freezer.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too convinced and wasn’t sure what to expect.  As curious as I was, if it hadn’t been for Random Recipes, I might not have tried it at all and gone for a “safer” cake option.  By “safer” I mean a recipe that I was fairly sure what the results would be.  You see, I’ve never cooked with polenta before (never mind baked), so I really wasn’t too sure.  But rules are rules.  So off I went on a mission to find some instant polenta.  I wasn’t expecting it to be particularly difficult since after all the recipe book was written in NZ by Kiwi chefs, so all the ingredients must be available here…  But it turned out that my mission required a trip to the big slightly-out-of-the-way supermarket, which (thankfully) did have instant polenta squirrelled away in the international food section.

So, with all the ingredients assembled, time to try out the actual recipe…  I really wasn’t too sure about the whole cake until I was able to try some.  But thankfully my doubts were misplaced.  The top of the cake has a little crunch from the sugar that started off underneath the blueberries (it’s an upside-down cake remember), the blueberries come out slightly mushy and all juicy since they’ve been cooked, and as for the actual cake part, I’d describe it as slightly denser than a sponge cake in texture, which I guess probably comes from the polenta, but not particularly heavy.  The citrus zest, white wine and the olive oil add a distinct fruity flavour which goes wonderfully with the blueberries, although one might not necessarily be able to fully pin down the flavour combination if you didn’t know that wine is one of the ingredients.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to guess.  So if you’re looking for something a little different (and there aren’t any kids involved) I’d definitely suggest giving this a whirl.

Blueberry polenta upside-down cake

Makes 16 slices
Adapted from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

Since blueberries are out of season at the moment I used frozen ones, which worked wonderfully, but fresh will also work (just be sure to pat them dry after rinsing).  If using frozen blueberries, there’s no need to thaw them first.  I used a very fruity NZ Sauvignon Blanc.  The cake will keep for up to three days if stored in the fridge, but make sure to bring to room temperature before serving.

Ingredients

75g light brown sugar
300g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
185g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
85g instant polenta
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
165 ml fruity dry white wine
165 ml olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1.  Line a 28 x 18 cm rectangular baking tin with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C.

2.  Sprinkle the light brown sugar evenly across the lined baking tin.  Evenly cover with the blueberries.

3.  Sift the flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl.  Add the polenta, stir together and set aside.

4.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the caster sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zests using an electric whisk until pale and very thick.  Gently whisk in the wine, oil and vanilla.  Fold in the flour and polenta mixture and then gently pour over the blueberries in the prepared cake tin (trying to avoid dislodging the blueberries).  Carefully smooth the top if necessary.

5.  Bake in the oven for 60-70 mins until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 mins before inverting onto a serving plate.  Carefully peel off the baking paper, taking care to leave the blueberry topping undisturbed.  Allow to cool fully before slicing into 16 pieces and serving.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #10: Fig, orange & honey pancakes

This month’s Breakfast Club is hosted by Krithi’s Kitchen and she has chosen “Pancakes” as the theme.  Now, I have a confession: whilst I make crêpes from time to time, I’ve never made pancakes before.  Oh my God, shock horror, etc.  Yes, I am 22 and have never made pancakes.  I actually just never really think to make them, perhaps because they’re not something my mum ever made for me (they’re not very French).  Though having said that, my mum never really made muffins either (they’re also not very French), and I absolutely love them and bake them on a regular basis.  So that’s actually a bit of a crap excuse.  Whatever the reason though, the point is that I’ve never made pancakes.

Whilst this means that I get to try something completely new (to me), it also means that I don’t have a tried-and-tested basic pancake recipe to expand on.  Or any pancake recipes in general actually – though the internet rapidly solved that issue.  The only rules for this challenge were no beef (easy), no pork (easy) and no alcohol (I’m a student, so uhmmm…  Just kidding – I can cope) which gave me a wide scope for experimenting.  I had some dried figs that I wanted to use up, and decided to pair them up with orange  after nearly taking myself out when I knocked off a jar of orange blossom honey of a shelf in my cupboard (things falling from the sky is not my usual source of inspiration, but whatever works).

So having decided on a combination of fig and orange (which work wonderfully well together, by the way!) I found a blueberry pancake recipe online that looked straightforward enough, and sort of adapted it as I went along.  This could have gone horribly wrong, but thankfully didn’t.  I’m actually quite happy with my first attempt at pancakes – whilst they might not be all that presentable, they tasted lovely.  The dried fig sweetened the pancakes up a little as did the honey (unsurprisingly), whereas the orange zest and juice made them taste quite fresh and light.  Because the recipe made 12 pancakes and there’s only 1 of me, and well, it’s “Ball Season” at the moment, so becoming obese isn’t really one of my goals (getting all my dresses altered would be a bit of a pain), I had a bunch of leftover pancakes.  I toasted some of them for breakfast this morning and guess what?  Scrumptious!  Though the amount of honey that I drowned them in drizzled all over them may have somewhat nullified my whole I-probably-shouldn’t-eat-12-pancakes thought process.  Oops.  Totally worth it though, and I’ll just take a little trip to the gym – sorted!

Fig & orange pancakes

Makes 12
Adapted from Verses from my Kitchen

Make sure to chop the fig as finely as possible and spread the chopped fig out a little so that you don’t end up with a clump of fig bits in the middle of the pancake.  The pancakes can be made as big or as small as you like, though you’ll obviously have to adjust the cooking times accordingly.  Any leftover pancakes can be stored in an airtight box and toasted for breakfast the next day and served with honey or butter.  I served these with orange blossom honey because I happened to have some, but acacia honey would also be lovely.

Ingredients

80g dried figs
1 unwaxed orange
125g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
About 250ml milk
20g butter + extra for cooking
Honey, to serve

Directions

1.  Chop the dried figs as finely as possible, and mix with the finely-grated orange zest in a small bowl.  Sift and mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

2.  Juice the orange and make the liquid up to 300ml.  Add to a medium bowl with the egg and whisk together.  Make a small well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid progressively, whisking until smooth.  Gently stir in the melted butter, chopped figs and orange zest.

3. Melt a knob of butter over medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan.  Drop about 2 large tbsp of into the pan for each pancake (you’ll have to do this in batches) and cook for around 3 mins or until small bubbles start to form on the top surface.  Flip and cook further for about 2 mins.

4.  Serve drizzled with honey and extra chopped figs if you have any.

Enjoy!

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